Once upon a time, there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.
One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically, “you must be so sad.”
“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed! “Not only did your horse return, but you received two more. What great fortune you have!”
“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Now your son cannot help you with your farming,” they said. “What terrible luck you have!”
“We’ll see,” replied the old farmer.
The following week, military officials came to the village to conscript young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Such great news. You must be so happy!”
The man smiled to himself and said once again.
Ethan Maurice says
Simple, powerful story.
When I was sixteen I was bit by a mosquito and contracted Viral Meningoencephalitis (swelling of the fluid around the brain and spine). It nearly killed me, causing grand mal seizures, a stoke, four days in a coma, and brain damage to the motor and language outputs of my brain. Didn’t seem very fortunate at the time.
It took a couple years, but I made a full recovery. One day, I was just hit with this realization of the fragility of life, shattering the belief that I was somehow guaranteed to live into old age. This changed things. There was suddenly a sort of urgency to live. I pedaled a bicycle across the United States raising $96,000 for the children’s hospital that saved my life, worked on a cruise ship, lived in places I’d only dreamed of, and have been on this wonderful journey ever since.
Something that, at the time, seemed like the worst thing that could ever happen to me, turned out to be the very turning point in my life that lead to all of the best experiences and has sent me in a completely different, better direction.
We’ll see… Great post Joel.
j. doe says
Bitten not bit
Seriously, J. Doe? After a moving and vulnerable story like that, you correct his grammar without another word? I’ve never, ever written a comment on a blog, but I couldn’t resist. Not that you need defending, Ethan, but sometimes someone’s gotta say something!
j. does says
It’s not, “someone’s gotta say something”.
It should be, “Someone has to say something” or “Someone has got to say something”. Though in the context of your comment, the sometimes is this time, and the someone is you, so I can’t really understand why you didn’t just say, “but I had to say something.”
Asperger where asperger is due. Don’t take it personally.
Since you are so keen on accuracy, I would point out that mozzies can’t bite (no jaws) but feed by withdrawing blood somewhat like drinking through a straw. Just sayin’ 😉 .
The very worst type of pedantry. Both mean spirited and incorrect. “I was bit” is perfectly correct as per COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English).
Grammar Police says
Bitten, not bit.
Great perspective! But if you always wait & see, will you ever get (or create) what you want? Or will you just get what comes your way? (or is that the whole point of the story in the first place…)
Joel Runyon says
No. The point is to not overreact.
The farmer didn’t stop farming. He didn’t let things he couldn’t control affect the things he could control.
I will be 54 on News Year Eve, I have been doing some reading recently that says we need to be less materialistic and help others more, this gives us inner peace and more happiness. I think it is true and I have went after many goals but I am not chasing things any longer. I will be happy with a simple life well lived with little to no addictions a healthy lifestyle with lots of sunshine and fresh air and exercise, good nutritious food and being with people I love. I have had success, my own business, degrees and traveled. Now I want to live a simpler less stress lifestyle..
So I like this story.. I will control what I can and see what the future brings. My mom is 80 and I want her last days to be healthy and happy so hence helping her enjoy life as much as possible and this will in turn make me happy and at peace. Thanks for your insight and website.. Looking forward to blog TV and may even have my own soon with you! Denise
Joe, I may be missing something, but It looks like you are crediting yourself for this story (one of my favorites) it is an ancient Chinese parable. Otherwise, glad you shared it. From the vantage if w923 it is ever more valuable.
Leigh McCracken says
“We’ll see” Doesn’t mean “Wait & see” it just means carry on with your life & see what happens & how everything connects together
Mabry his trust in Jesu’s is so strong he really believes it’s all in God’s hands.wish and try to be the same way
There was not only no reference towards god or jesus in this but this is a chinese proverb so chances are he was buddhist. Also that’s not what this quote means. It has more to do with not getting ahead of yourself because you never know how a situation might turn and whether or not something is actually a positive or negative for the future.
Jesse Trigg says
You are right, there was no reference to Jesus in this story. And I agree the author was likely Buddhist. However, the Bible has many stories that are teaching this very theme. Take Joseph, from Genesis, who was betrayed by his brothers, put in jail for false accusations, etc. And in the end, Joseph gives credit to God, that despite his temporal circumstances things were working together and ultimately meant for good.
TeeDee (Terri) says
I came in search of this parable to share with my son as he recently lost his teaching position in music, as well as all his performance bookings, which took him across N.America, Europe and Asia, due to COVID-19 restrictions and cutbacks at the college he was teaching at for several years (they always go after music and other arts programs when they want to cut back, though they can add much richness and creativity to human lives). Though he felt gutted upon hearing the news and said to me, “this is the first time in my life I’ve ever been unemployed”, his attitude was as upbeat as he could manage and he said that he wants to look at this as a new opportunity that life has presented to him and he’s going to persevere in not letting it drag him down or make him despondent. I want to remind him of this parable because it seems fitting at a time like this.
I’ll also encourage him to read the comments thread for further inspiration–thank you all, and be well…
Jim Seagram says
Elaine Reinertson says
I have heard the story told with different verbiage. Rather than we’ll see, the towns people responded with oh this is bad, oh this is very good. Wavering in their belief. Though God is not mentioned, I believe it’s a reminder that our story is not over yet. I enjoyed others comments. Especially the one that said the farmer kept farming.
I have heard and told this story many times. It’s not about control. It’s not about creating your own future or just throwing your hands up and letting things happen. You are all missing the point.
Yes, things happen that are not within our control. Actually, nothing is under our control no matter how hard we try. You could view that as depressing or you could see it as a tremendous relief. You can stop trying to control things.
The point is that labeling things as good or bad is ultimately useless. Something may appear to be good, and turn out to have a bad outcome. Something may appear to be bad, and turn out to have a good outcome. It goes on and on, like the story. Nothing lasts. And that fact is neither good nor bad. It is just true.
The best we can do is to keep our eyes open and actually see what is happening without obscuring reality with our opinions of good and bad. And so the farmer says wisely, we will see.
Notice how chill that farmer is. He doesn’t get excited about good or bad fortune. He is still as a rock. That is called equanimity. It is the antidote to suffering. Suffering occurs because we get attached to outcomes that we call good and bad.
That’s the truth. And the truth is not a Christian or Buddhist, or Hindu or Native American or pagan or atheist, it belongs to everyone.
Keep the story in mind, and your life will be better for it.